A day in the life of our outreach worker
Homelessness is a complex social issue in that there is not one root problem that one can point to and say why people live on the streets. The reality is that there are many reasons including unfortunate situations like losing a job, being involved in an abusive relationship, or mental health challenges. One thing I have certainly learned is that you never know someone’s story until you really listen.
As an outreach worker for Crisis House, I aim to work as a bridge to connect people to the services they need in order to ultimately obtain housing. Small things like giving a client a ride to the DMV to obtain there ID is a success that works towards helping people reach their goals. By having solution-focused conversations, we are able to empower people to be a part of the process of making the change for themselves.
One thing that I have observed in my work is that people form communities on the streets. The human body is amazing and it works to remain in homeostasis, in other words adapting to our environment. Thus, people experiencing homelessness adapt to living outdoors, actually making it difficult to then transition to living indoors. This is an interesting reality that I learned at a training that made me reflect on small challenges that people face that one might otherwise not think of normally.
We have been successful in helping people move from living on the streets to having housing, but what we have learned is that more often than not, it is a process that does not happen overnight. For example, a man that I met at one of the Saturday breakfast’s at Vista La Mesa Christian Church a couple of months will be housed within the next two weeks through our rapid rehousing program. This 63-year-old gentleman has been experiencing homelessness since 2012 and faces several health challenges. By simply listening to his story at the breakfast event, I was able to build a relationship with him, thus making it easier to introduce him to Joe, our housing navigator for the HEAP program. It is successes like these that give hope to the challenging, yet meaningful work we do on a daily basis.